When you are starting out, whether it be in a new career or striking out on your own, positioning yourself as an expert can be extremely uncomfortable. You may feel like a fraud or fake, and rest assured, that’s 100% normal.
Guest blog posting is a well-established tactic to help you position yourself as an expert, but you may simply not feel ready. The reality is that you have to start somewhere and when it comes to PR, guest blog posting is a core building block for other opportunities such as media interviews or speaking engagements.
The key to successful guest posting in doing some prep work so you are are confident in what you are offering and can quickly turn from rookie to pro.
Here are three easy ways to boost your guest posting confidence:
Lesson #1: The Value of Relationships
Before you start firing off emails, take the time to research and understand your targets. With smaller sites, you can go in based on the information they provide on their website, but when it comes to larger, more desirable targets, you simply cannot go in cold.
Start at the beginning by building a relationship with the blogger or site manager before you pitch your story idea. By opening the lines of communication before you pitch anything, they get a chance to know you and create a connection. When the day comes and you want to pitch them, they are more apt to be receptive as they know you are qualified and what they can expect from you.
There’s numerous ways to build relationships including commenting on their blogs, interacting with them on Twitter or Facebook or sharing their content. The key is for you to be authentic and not just in it for the hope of landing your story on their site. Your focus should be on delivering value and being helpful with no expectation of anything in return.
Lesson #2: It’s All About the Audience
Before you even sit down to write a pitch, you need to gain a solid understanding of the site’s audience and what they are all about. You want to dive into things such as who reads the site, what they want or need, and how the blog is serving them. Do your homework with Google and tools like AllTop and Topsy. Better yet, reverse engineer the guest posting process by finding out where your competitors are posting or searching for guest posts on topics you are interested in writing about.
From there, you can start developing story ideas that are uniquely suited to that particular audience. Build on an existing concept already covered on the site or pitch something entirely new that will be a slam dunk for their readers. In your pitch, be sure to create a clear connection between what you are pitching and how that serves the audience’s needs.
Lesson #3: Don’t Take it Personally
As you start pitching your guest posts, you need to accept that not every pitch will turn into an opportunity. You may need to pitch multiple ideas before one is a fit for the site. PR, including guest posting, often requires time, effort and a large dose of patience. The key is to deliver solid pitches with confidence and keep moving.
Once you’ve sent your pitch, do not assume because you’ve not heard back the answer is no. Bloggers and most sites are inundated with emails just like the rest of us. Give them time to respond, and if you don’t hear back gently follow-up to see if they are interested. At that point, you can assume they aren’t interested and use the story elsewhere.
Finally, understand that getting a no is not the end of the world. Getting nos means you are doing the work, and it isn’t necessarily a reflection of your expert status. They may simply have too much content right now, it’s not a perfect fit for their editorial direction or readers, or any other number of things. If you are rejected, take some time to reflect on how you could tweak the pitch or re-use it for another site that’s a better fit.
Like most things, confidence is the name of the game. Before you start pitching, take the time to empower yourself through research and building relationships to ensure you can act like the expert you are. Your confidence and attention to detail will come through and lead to successful guest posting.